Thursday, July 30, 2015


Bottles CRASH as the crescendo rises

For once I’m being a good citizen and doing my recycling

The kitchen has reached critical mass

As the drinking has continued and empty bottles are everywhere

It got so bad I couldn’t rach my cooker or fridge-freezer

I knew the time was right to do my duty

CRASH they go into the bin outside some other poor sods house

And god knows what they must think, is it the Sidewinder or that lowlife who lives on the corner

As CRASH they go out of my flat so at last I can finally get something to eat

Bradford Middleton


A rust-bucket of a car heading out on the highway

Full of punk rock poets off to blow some minds

Punk rockers on dope and full of hope

That tonight they’ll find some kindred spirts in a faraway place

The nearest faraway place to their collective home

What awaits them there

Well none of them are sure

For tonight they read to strangers, a crowd of fruits and dangerous reptiles

A few of us are used to the sights from the car

But me, well I ain’t been this far west since I went to Minehead for an ATP

The visuals are spectacular and I’m simply struck by awe

I get called, jokingly, a townie, a city boy, as we move on to another town

For tonight we hit Southampton knowing the town could be ours

But tonight the real treat for me is the road-trip there

Recalling memories of past times when the road was the king and I’d follow him to the end. 


Sitting in a bar on a Monday afternoon I feel at ease with my surroundings

Far more than I would now on a Saturday night

Now it’s just me and the same old faces, the same damn faces that I see

Whenever I’m compelled or frustrated enough to go to the pub on a Monday afternoon

Today’s been a strange one, had 6 more poems accepted and then saw a picture

In this months’ copy of The Wire of a girl I know, a pioneer of something called noise poetry

I thought about it on the way home and how I’ve always liked her poetry but

Gave up reading that pretentious tome many years ago

The article read like an advertisement for Brighton, how young, dynamic and down-right audacious we all fucking are

Freaking out the un-cool with our subversive home-grown brand of weirdness

But the night they wrote about has always just done my head in which I guess makes me one of those unashamedly un-cool

But for me now, aged 43, I can handle being considered like that by readers of The Wire as I cling to my Neil Young records in tatty blue denim

The bar today is nothing unusual and I’m glad just for some kind of normality

As I sit nursing my pint and watching the time fade away as nothing really happens

Except the drink is drank whilst outside lives move on yet in here we remain

Firmly stuck in the most remote of cul-de-sacs, going nowhere and remaining firmly underground



Sitting in the garden of the house that will one day be mine

Home at last with lots of time to relax

Sit back and

Open a beer

Sip down its warm contents as Dad refuses to chill his beer

And after an afternoon when the thermometer almost broke

As 45.7 degrees

My feet almost burnt as I walked out into the garden

It’s all too much for me

The beer would normally feel warm but right now it just refreshes

Whilst I sit here in this garden that will one day be mine

Flies go about their business

Annoyingly they swoop

Aiming for my arms

My pen

My god damn beer

But out here in cow country they know they simply rule

Outnumber us by at least a billion to one

On the inside I know my Dad is watching the news

And he’s sure to have stuff to moan about when I return

Bloody Tories, bloody Labor they are all the same

Whilst Mum is sitting quietly reading Harper Lee

All afternoon I been sitting, thinking as I wait for a reply from one of them

But no words, not all day, so all I can do is sit outside and drink this poem

Trying to keep distracted by our cats’ lack of effort at catching the mice and vermin who perambulate our garden

But in this heat all he wants to do is sit in the shade and eat

As I sit opposite, staring at him, drinking in the shade finally realizing that maybe me and him are almost the same.

Bradford Middleton


This is a cycle lane the mad man shouts

As he rides his bike around the racks of books

I want to shout at him and tell him this is a library

But he won’t listen he just wants to cycle

I dream of decapitating him somewhere in the crime section

I dream of him being abducted whilst near the sci-fi zone

But most of all I just hope he bloody well stops!

Then at last a librarian, a diminutive young woman

Throws herself in his way

Get out my way, he shouts, this is a cycle lane

No it isn’t she retorts this is a library and you are creating a disturbance

And with that the mad man has gone

Off to pester someplace else telling them wherever he rides

That this is a cycle lane so get out my way

Bradford Middleton


This woman I know messaged me to wish a happy birthday

Despite it being only 7.30am I replied almost immediately

Shocked, she recoiled

Why are you up so early she asked?

Well, I explained, I’m at my parents’ house

And there ain’t much to do except drink and sleep

Yesterday I started at 12 noon and passed out about half 11

Slept through the worst wind storm this village has experienced in many a year

And this morning woke, bright and early, at 7am

And now, well it’s my birthday, so I’d better get drinking...

Bradford Middleton 

PENDULUM        [Stefanie Bennett]
... Like a Mapuche National
I dream of sunken ships,
Shadows that walk
The Milky Way
And the empty nests
Of telegraph poles.
The grass grows
‘Second sight’
The date tree
Its form
Of exorcism –,
Waiting. Waiting on
The bright
Onyx and gold
UFO to arrive.
Going to Planned Parenthood Again

“We had the other ones done there,” says Tammy. 
"Why not go there again? Everything went well.
No complications. Who cares about the publicity? 
Bunch of do-gooders with hidden cameras.

“I don’t care about the publicity,” says Jason. 
“But if I’m the father and they’re going to sell 
the heart, brains and liver of my fetus, I want 
a share in the proceeds. There would be no
fetus, parts or proceeds if it weren’t for me. 
They wouldn’t have anything to sell.”

“You’re absolutely nuts,” says Tammy, 
“absolutely nuts. If they pay you, 
they’ll have to pay every other 
guy who gets a girl pregnant. 
What about me? I’m the pregnant one. 
I’m the one they’re taking it from. 
Why shouldn’t I get paid, Jason?”

“We should both get paid,” says Jason. 
"Let’s go down there and tell them 
either we get a share of the proceeds 
or you’ll have the baby instead. 
Then we’ll add to the population,
use disposable diapers, flush the toilet 
too often and eventually make 
the world warmer than it is.

Donal Mahoney

One thing 
we all have 
in common is 
we're ripening 
for the harvest.

Donald Trump 
and Pee-wee Herman,
Bill Gates 
and Eliot Spitzer,
Warren Buffett 
and Anthony Weiner

are different 
in many respects 
but like the rest of us, 
they, too, are ripening
for the harvest.

They hang with us
from the same branch,
apples, big and small, 
ripening in summer, 
withering in fall,
waiting for winter
to conduct its harvest. 

Some of us hang
from that branch
and wonder 
what in the name 
of God is next.
Others just hang.
They appear
not to care.

Donal Mahoney

An Old Nun’s Opinion

An old nun sitting 
on a bench in front of her convent
saying her beads was

interrupted by a young nun
coming home from school
to the convent for the night.

She asked the old nun if she had heard
about the Supreme Court passing 
the gay marriage law

and the old nun said she had.
The young nun seemed surprised. 
“Well, Sister, you don’t seem upset!

The old nun looked at her beads
and said, “This isn't Roe v. Wade.
This law won't kill anybody."

Donal Mahoney

Those Poems, That Fire
I stood in the alley, still
in pajamas, somebody’s shoes,
another man’s coat, my eyes
on the bronc of the hoses.
Squawed in the blankets of neighbors,
my wife and three children sipped
chocolate, stood orange and still.
Of the hundred or more I had stored
in a drawer, I could remember,
comma for comma, no more than four,
none of them final,
all of them fetal.
Donal Mahoney

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Surprise, Surprise

The mother's dead. 
Thirty years later 
you meet the daughter 
and realize the daughter 
is the mother again, 
poking her finger 
in your chest half an hour
after her plane lands. 
The same laugh knocks
folks in the elevator 
back a bit.

Every time the daughter 
grabs your arm 
to emphasize a point
the way the mother did,
you want a ticket
to the Maldives
or maybe Bulgaria.
Sofia in the summer
might be nice.

This time, however,
you stay put.
She found you
on the Internet.
You must admit
the freckles 
across her nose 
scream she's right: 
You are her father. 
Surprise, Surprise.
Her mother never said.

Donal Mahoney

That Valentine's Day in Manhattan

You're standing on a window ledge
on the 50th floor of your building.
It's Valentine's Day in Manhattan, 
clouds cruising, sun everywhere, 

a nice breeze tossing your hair,
the taste of that woman always there.
Do you wonder what happens after 
you jump or do you simply not care?

Does God meet you half way down
and say "What a foolish thing to do." 
Or does Satan appear and shout
"Here's the Magnus Doofus of my day."

Do you begin to wonder when 
you're a foot above the asphalt 
whether you'll hear the splat or 
do you jump and simply not care?

Donal Mahoney

The Human Condition

Did I forgive her, you ask?
What a silly question.
Why wouldn't I forgive her?
The mother of my children,

she's been dead for years.
Our long war died with her.
Did I attend her funeral?
I'd have been a distraction.

But I pray for her, 
the repose of her soul.
She belongs in Heaven,
no denying that, up front

in a box seat after all 
she's been through.
If I'm lucky, I'll find 
the side door to 

Heaven unlocked.
I'll sneak in quietly
and if Peter doesn't  
throw me out, I'll sit

in the bleachers.
The question is, 
will I wave if she 
turns around?

Donal Mahoney
Those Good Tomatoes
          Chicago, South Side
Late July and I am waiting
for those good tomatoes
brought to the city from farms
on trucks with a swinging scale,
brought to the city
and into the alleys
by Greeks and sons
in late July
and early August,
tomatoes so red they reign
on the sills of my mind all winter
too perfect to eat.

Donal Mahoney

El Chapo Comes to San Francisco

Olé! Olé!
shouts El Chapo, 
prison escapee

on the lam from Mexico,
riding a burro
to San Francisco,

that sanctuary city
by the Bay, where 
the local gendarmes

are free to let him go
and drive a food truck
and sell tacos,

heroin and cocaine
until Congress decides
illegal immigrants are on 

a path to citizenship
which could happen 
unless The Donald,

our new John Wayne, 
locks up El Chapo and  
shouts Olé! Olé!

Donal Mahoney

One of those Yanks

I’m white as a sheet
believe me
one of those Yanks
who never before 
the Charleston massacre
thought about 
the Confederate flag

I spent most of my life 
in Chicago, that city 
of big shoulders
and short tempers, where 
the Confederate flag was 
not often seen and whites
and blacks laughed
and fought in public. 

I live in St. Louis now 
not far from Ferguson
where whites and blacks 
are a pile of wood
on a back porch  
waiting for a match
and some oaf to strike it.

Donal Mahoney

Monday, July 6, 2015

Harvesting Pumpkins

From villages in Iowa,
Indiana, Minnesota and Nebraska
and from towns in the Dakotas,
Wisconsin and Michigan,

there stream to Chicago in spring
parades of lithe girls
looking for boys 
who will look at them

but who find instead
the men who will wine them
through summer,
who will wait until fall

to thresh in the fields
one summer can ripen,
the men who will watch
till a pumpkin falls from the vine.

This is the courtship
village girls dream about,
laugh about, hope for.
Come fall, these are the men

who fill silos of girls
from Elkhart and Davenport,
Ely and other small places,
lithe girls who in spring

come to Chicago looking for boys
who will look at them
but who find instead
the reapers, the men.

Donal Mahoney

Email to a Son

Hard to believe you graduated 
from college 25 years ago.
Anyone who can climb 

from ruffian in a juvenile home
to university graduate to 
business owner is remarkable.

One day your sons
will come to understand that.  
Your siblings as well.

Couldn’t be prouder of your trek, 
a magnificent one, done the hard way, 
something I viewed from the valley. 

My father had a passbook 
with cash for me to go to college. 
He always had work, hard work,

highly skilled, with no layoffs. 
There’s always a demand for hot wire
electricians willing to climb 

tall poles and high towers, 
attack voltage in any weather. 
Life never steps back, forever upstream, 

and then suddenly we're salmon. 
A final thrust or two and we die. 
Thank God we have souls. 

Donal Mahoney

Wildlife in the Garden

Birds and possums, 
coons and squirrels
frequent my wife’s garden.

Dawn to dusk I spy on them
from an upstairs window
next to my computer.

They remind me of the city
poor foraging in Dumpsters.
This morning a coon dispatched

a possum that had 
frightened away two feral cats 
I feed every day at 4 a.m. 

When I went out on the deck
and waved my arms to dispatch
the coon, he sat on his rump

and stared at me with a glare
I saw 50 years ago in the eyes
of a girl who became a nun. 

She is still a nun today. 
She said cut it out back then.
As did the coon today. 

Donal Mahoney

Sunday, July 5, 2015

July 4th Barbecue

for Kermit Gosnell, M.D.

Every year Dr. Gluck,
the famed gynecologist,
invites his nurses to his ranch
for his July 4th barbecue.

The nurses and their husbands
drive miles to watch the doctor 
twist the necks of 20 chickens 
before he dips the fowl, some 
still wriggling, in a big vat 
of boiling water to remove 
the feathers before he tears 
the legs and wings off 
and places the parts 
neatly on the grill.

Everyone agrees the meat 
is wonderful, as is the sauce. 
No knife is needed except 
to butter the fresh-baked rolls.
The slaw and potato salad 
have no peer, the nurses say. 
They claim the same is true 
of his ice cream and pecan pie.

The perfection of this feast
is no mystery, really.
Every July 4th Dr. Gluck
celebrates America and
demonstrates outdoors 
the skills he's honed 
indoors for 30 years. 
The nurses agree, however, 
the fetuses don't wriggle 
as much as the chickens do 
and it's nice the fetuses 
go in a bucket 
and not on a grill.

Donal Mahoney

Physical For An Old Woman 
Picked Up Wandering

Between her legs 
the doctor found a goatee

gray as city pigeons
flying through factory smoke

a goatee that hadn't been combed
that hadn't been kept

that quit in fangs
an inch above her knees
Donal Mahoney

The Odyssey of Pastor Harold Schnabel

Listen up! It's Deacon Simon here, 
reporting on Pastor Harold Schnabel,
the minister we long ago defrocked.
Remember how he went to Holland
years ago. Hard to believe but 
he's coming back a millionaire 
who made his money   
running a bordello for midgets 
with Peyronie's Disease
in downtown Amsterdam.

He hired his staff carefully, 
favoring double-jointed women who 
understand the geometry of angles, 
isosceles and otherwise. 
He's coming back to take advantage 
of an American Renaissance 
in porkpie hats. He says men 
will wear them once again 
this summer and possibly forever. 
It will be the same porkpie hat 

made famous by Buster Keaton,
the beloved comedian, 
who for years was chief custodian  
in Harold's congregation, long before 
we deacons finally defrocked him
for simony, calumny, 
heterosexuality and serial fraud.
Anyone who thinks Harold's wrong 
about an American Renaissance
in porkpie hats needs to remember

the startling success he's had 
running that bordello for midgets 
with Peyronie's Disease. 
The staff of ladies he recruited.
made Harold a millionaire.
We defrocked him for cause but 
he's an entrepreneur extraordinaire.
He knows midgets and porkpie hats. 
So, please, join me at the airport 
Sunday morning after services

so we can make Harold's return
to our beautiful city a boffo event.
He's giving out free porkpie hats
to everyone who comes to greet him.
And big discounts to all midgets
with Peyronie's Disease planning
a trip to Amsterdam this Spring
to admire--what else?--the tulips.
There will never be another Harold.
Let's welcome Pastor Schnabel home.   

Donal Mahoney

Helpless I do not know if good intentions prevail among the elected, among the appointed, leaving me apprehensive that the fate ...